FGV Extrasolar Life Proposal for Global Organization for Optimistic Future Discussion

Fundacao Getulio Vargas

Question Description

I’m trying to learn for my Science class and I’m stuck. Can you help?

Term Paper Instructions

IMPORTANT: Your proposal MUST follow this format or it risks rejection. A rejected paper will receive 0 points for grade and will be further scrutinized for plagiarism with serious consequences. Please include all headers in your paper. All writing should be in your own words with appropriate citations to any other works.

Paper Topic: You are to synthesize the material you learned in this course to propose a mission to discover extrasolar life to the Global Organization for an Optimistic Future (GOOF). GOOF is willing to spend unlimited funds to be the first agency to find a non-terrestrial living organism of any kind. They will select the proposal that shows the most scientific evidence for finding life with the minimal amount of money and time.

I. Introduction (~150 words)
Give an overview of the mission your propose.

II. Mission Location (~1000 words)

Select a location (e.g., a moon or planet) other than Earth where you would propose to search for extraterrestrial life. Make a valid scientific argument on why you think this location is the most promising and practical place to search.

III. Discover of Lifeforms (~1000 words)

Describe the most likely lifeforms scientists think we will find on the extrasolar planet or moon you chose. Explain how this lifeform likely survives and thrives in the described location. Your explanation should include a description of its biological process (e.g. respiration, metabolism) and the sources of energy and other requirements and how these requirements are likely available in the location.

IV. How Would We Find It (~ 250 words)

Give a description of the mission or observational technique(s) you propose to accomplish the mission.

IV. Conclusion (~150 words)

A summary of your proposal.

Criteria for a successful paper:

A successful paper will be at least 2500 words and will follow the format above. It will include:

  • A clear, accurate, and coherent scientific argument that uses scientifically valid information (from the Internet or journals) and many of the main concepts used in the course. Your paper should demonstrate your understanding of these concepts, not just the awareness of the terminology.
  • A clear organization and correct grammar to provide a readable and intelligent paper. It should be easy and pleasurable to read. This must include an introduction, conclusion, and the mandatory headers to help make clarify your argument.
  • Within this format, your paper should demonstrate individuality and creativity to show how you have digested and interpreted the information, and to show me it is your OWN work. Papers that read like a bunch of cut and paste text without any personality will be poorly graded.
  • A complete and consistent set of citations and references in APA, IEEE, or similar academic format. I don't care which format you use, but be consistent and thorough.
  • Pride in your work. If you don't love it, I won't love it.

You MUST do original work. I will be very strict on anything that is copied from the Internet, purchased, or “borrowed” from another student’s paper - it is plagiarism. Don't go there.

These files and web pages are the assignments and videos used in this course. Please complete the report based on this course. Thank you!

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Running Head: SEARCHING FOR LIFE 1 Searching for Life in Our Solar System SEARCHING FOR LIFE 2 The search for life on other planets is one of the most exciting activities a scientist can undertake. Confirmation of the existence of life on other planets would force humanity to rethink its place in the universe and the role they play in it. The broader implications across the natural sciences would be transformative. Improvements in technology are allowing us to study the universe in greater depth. The progress in the field of astrobiology seems unstoppable, and it is opening us to discoveries that just a few years ago, we could not have fathomed. As a planetary body Mars shares the most geological similarities to the Earth within our solar system. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the interest of astrobiologists has focused on the potential of Mars to currently or in the past have hosted life. Research projects center their attention on analyzing data to assess the potential viability of life on Mars, that is, its potential habitability. Pictures were taken during the first mission revealing the existence of stratified rocks that made up systems of hills and canyons. Likewise, on Earth, stratification occurs due to erosion caused by water flow that creates the conditions for fossil preservation with water content. (KQED, 2014) The existence of water on Mars at least a few billion years ago is now part of the scientific mainstream and viewed as irrefutable. The reasons are simple and evident in the photographs: stratified rocks scattered around the equator of the red planet can be seen in canyons and craters. According to Michael Meyer of NASA's biological star program, "These photographs suggest that the water remained for a long period of time" (Squyres, 2005). While the period in which water existed on Mars was not sufficient for the development of intelligent life, it could very well have served to allow for microscopic life to thrive. For example, bacteria might have existed because it is capable of living under extraordinarily high and low SEARCHING FOR LIFE 3 temperatures. This water may have helped them spread and acclimatize along the lakes that may have existed. The Global Surveyor probe has managed to take around 85,000 photographs, 500 million laser measurements, hundreds of millions of infrared profiles and hundreds of millions of gigabytes of information that have been analyzed by NASA since the beginning of the program. The program has not yet detected the presence of intelligent life on Mars. While a civilization like ours has yet to be discovered on the planet most similar to ours, it may harbor at least some of the same microscopic life that is found on Earth. Mars is a planet with scarce water, no ozone layer, inadequate oxygen, and an electromagnetic field much weaker than Earth's. If biosystems ever existed on Mars, these may no longer exist. The hope of finding traces of ancient life on Mars has dropped to almost zero because scientists have concluded from the Martian meteorite review that Mars has been frozen for about four billion years. The most propitious moment for the appearance of biosystems in our Solar System happened about 3.5 billion years ago when Mars was already an icy planet. Second, we have Saturn’s Moon Enceladus. It has surpassed Mars as the best candidate to host extraterrestrial life after the discovery of a hidden ocean inside. Few places in the Solar System are as exciting and intricate as Saturn is. Saturn has 200 moons (more than 60 with secure orbits). (Parkinson, 2008) Enceladus is one of the innermost moons of Saturn in orbit, the 14th furthest number on the planet. It is located about 2 billion kilometers away from Earth. It stands out for having a surface temperature below 200 degrees Celsius (NASA, 2017), a higher temperature than any other place besides Earth. Hypothetical life on Enceladus would have had to develop and adapt to living in complete darkness. SEARCHING FOR LIFE 4 NASA's Cassini spacecraft discovered that there is a region 300 km in diameter with an underground ocean of liquid water near the south pole of Enceladus. From there, geysers eject water jets toward the surface. The Cassini probe is capable of capturing high-precision photographs, recording subtle variations in the satellite’s mass, and measuring the mass distribution of the moon itself. Scientists noticed that Enceladus did not have enough material on the surface to have obtained the measurements it obtained concerning gravity. Therefore, it is practically a fact that Enceladus keeps an ocean in a liquid state and hidden beneath the surface, which would explain the intense gravity recorded by the probe. (NASA, 2017) According to Parkinson, the ocean of Enceladus would be between 18 and 24 km below the thick and frozen surface. The results of the probe show that surface fissures expel large organic molecules rich in carbon and hydrogen necessary for life. The presence of large complex molecules, together with liquid water and hydrothermal activity, reinforces the hypothesis that the Enceladus ocean can be a habitable environment for life. (Parkinson et al., 2008) Enceladus is so white that it absorbs very little sunlight causing it to be -200 C° (NASA, 2017). This, however, is only the case for its exterior as it has an internal heat source that causes the geysers at the south pole of Enceladus. The presence of water-soluble organic particles does not guarantee that there are life forms in Enceladus, but it is a reliable indicator that it does. The discovery should encourage scientists to send new problems aimed at analyzing Enceladus’ habitability conditions. Lastly, we have our very own planet as a reference point for the development of life in hostile environments. Scientists have discovered hundreds of hydrothermal sources around the world. The first vent was discovered in 1977 by a team that working on the Galapagos coast. The discovery was a revolution for scientific thinking about how and where life could exist. It SEARCHING FOR LIFE 5 provided strong evidence for the idea that life appeared on earth as a result of hydrothermal vents. (Martin, 2008) The hydrothermal sources are usually found near places with oceanic volcanic activity and are rich in chemical elements that can create complex organic reactions. A very hostile environment surrounds these sources since these generally do not have enough light. Due to their location in deep areas of the ocean, the pressure is very high. The steam columns emanating from the holes can contain toxic chemicals including hydrogen sulfide, poisonous to many animals. Nonetheless, these vents manage to house a large number of different creatures, such as tubeworms and crabs. A new type of bacteria has been discovered that uses toxic gases as a source of energy. The same bacteria serives as a food source for crabs, clams and tube worms. Some of the world's oldest fossils, discovered by a team led by UCL, originated from these underwater vents. (Martin, 2008) Researchers have also hypothesized that deep-sea hydrothermal vents are not exclusive to Earth. Some other planets like cold moons of Jupiter and Saturn might have similar hydrothermal vents. Different types of hydrothermal sources exist in the southern Gulf of California: black fumaroles, carbonate fireplaces and hydrothermal vents. Each environment sustains its unique animal community. (Zierenberg, 2000) Life on other planets inevitably leads us to consider the origin of life and when we consider the origin of life, the study of the history of the matter is inevitable. 90% of the Earth’s ocean floor has not yet been explored, and there are species whose habitats we do not yet understand. Just like in our solar system, there is a wide range of organic compounds within meteorites. NASA has pointed out the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life is less likely than what we believe since finding a space that has all the ideal conditions for life has proven SEARCHING FOR LIFE 6 difficult. Millions of years and suitable conditions are necessary to generate microorganisms and species on a planet. Ironically Saturn and Jupiter have served a pivotal role in allowing the existence of life on Earth by blocking it from the impact of asteroids. Although it has not yet been possible to confirm the existence of extraterrestrial life, NASA has not given up on the mission to explore new planets with the ideal conditions to support life. Areas of planet Earth that support life despite what would otherwise be deemed inhabitable conditions provides strong evidence of the existence of microorganisms in Enceladus and Mars. We conclude that the needs of life are liquid water and energy sources, which are quite common in the Solar System. We might be closer to new life, but bacteria might die before we discover it; that is the nature and mystery of life. Space exploration is one of the great adventures of our time and, for decades, scientists and astronomers have searched planets capable of harboring life. SEARCHING FOR LIFE 7 References Baross, J. A., & Hoffman, S. E. (1985). Submarine hydrothermal vents and associated gradient environments as sites for the origin and evolution of life. Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, 15(4), 327-345. KQED QUEST. (2014, November 18). Searching for Life on Mars. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from Martin, W., Baross, J., Kelley, D., & Russell, M. J. (2008). Hydrothermal vents and the origin of life. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 6(11), 805-814. McKay, C. P., Porco, C. C., Altheide, T., Davis, W. L., & Kral, T. A. (2008). The possible origin and persistence of life on Enceladus and detection of biomarkers in the plume. Astrobiology, 8(5), 909-919. McKay, D. S., Gibson, E. K., Thomas-Keprta, K. L., Vali, H., Romanek, C. S., Clemett, S. J., ... & Zare, R. N. (1996). Search for past life on Mars: possible relic biogenic activity in Martian meteorite ALH84001. Science, 273(5277), 924-930. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2017, April 13). NASA: Ingredients for Life at Saturn’s Moon Enceladus. Retrieved February 12, 2020, from NASA. (2017, April 13). Ingredients for Life at Enceladus. Retrieved February 12, 2020, from SEARCHING FOR LIFE Ocean Explore Gov. (2017, August 25). Hydrothermal Vents: 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas. Retrieved February 12, 2020, from Parkinson, C. D., Liang, M. C., Yung, Y. L., & Kirschivnk, J. L. (2008). Habitability of Enceladus: planetary conditions for life. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, 38(4), 355-369. Zierenberg, R. A., Adams, M. W., & Arp, A. J. (2000). Life in extreme environments: Hydrothermal vents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97(24), 1296112962. 8 Running head: EARTH LIFE FORMS EARTH LIFEFORMS SURVIVAL ON MARS 1 EARTH LIFE FORMS 2 The potential of Mars supporting life is contentious that has fascinated scientists for years. Other than the proximity to Earth, the planet also bears some resemblance that points towards the possibility of supporting life. Some evidence suggests that during the ancient Noachian era, the planet contained liquid water that could have supported the survival of microorganisms. National Space Agency (NASA) mentioned that the Curiosity rover sent information about discovering organic compounds in rock samples from Mars (Kral et al., 2016). The rover also found boron on the planet, which is a precursor of prebiotic chemistry. Such findings point towards the possibility of some organisms from Earth to thrive under such conditions. Although the surface of Mars is covered by ionizing radiation, scientists believe that the planet's subsurface may be harboring frozen water, which is a crucial element in supporting life. Through the ability to withstand conditions of low light, salt toxicity, fewer nutrients, and extreme temperature changes, methanogens, cyanobacteria, and lichens have the potential to exist on Mars. Methanogens could survive on Mars for their anaerobic and non-photosynthetic traits. The features could enable them to subsist under the subsurface of Mars. The organisms can also tolerate perchlorate salt concentrations. Methanogens are classified under the domain Archae. They are known to utilize hydrogen as their reserve of energy and carbon (IV) Oxide as their source of carbon. They break down and release natural gas. On Erath, these microorganisms can be found in swamps; however, they can also be found in guts of herbivores and decaying matter. The evidence to back the claim regarding the ability of methanogens to withstand Martian conditions can be found in published studies. Multiple studies show different perspectives on how particular methanogen species are suited for the conditions on Mars. One study focused on Methanothermobacter wolfeii and Methanobacterium formicicum established that the two species could endure the Martian freeze-thaw cycles as replicated in the lab (Mickol & Kral, 2017). The two species were tried for their capability to tolerate the extreme Martian freeze-thaw phases that are significantly lower than their ideal growth temperatures of 37oC and 55oC for M. formicicum and M. wolfeii, respectively. The two species were selected due to their thermophile and hyperthermophile features, respectively. Although the low temperatures on Mars may limit the growth of these methanogens, they can survive. From the experiment, the microorganisms were able to resume growth and metabolism upon being subjected to their respective growth temperatures (Mickol & Kral, 2017). The findings show how these organisms can adapt to the extreme conditions on Mars. The temperature on the Martian surface fluctuates extensively, often ranging between 90oC and 27oC in a single Martian day. As such, the existence of any life form would be expected to withstand the wide temperature range (Mickol & Kral, 2017). Methanogens are among the leading candidates that could survive the extreme temperature range. Another study by Kral et al. (2016) explored the capability of methanogens to exist in perchlorate. The research was inspired by the Curiosity rover’s confirmation that the Mars surface contained perchlorate. The experiment was executed by testing the capability of methanogen species to tolerate different concentrations of perchlorate solution. The microorganisms tested included Methanosarcina barkeri and Methanobacterium formicicum as well as Methanothermobacter wolfeii. The researchers used methane production to assess methanogen growth. The findings EARTH LIFE FORMS 3 indicate that all methanogens released significant levels of methane when subjected to a maximum of 1.0 percent perchlorate (Kral et al., 2016). The evidence on the survival capability of methanogens is strong. Most of the study findings are based on laboratory experiments that subjected methanogens to Mars-like conditions replicated in the laboratory. Furthermore, there is an extensive collection of published work that supports the claim. Cyanobacteria are among the Earth's most robust life forms. They lack specialized compartments; instead, their genetic material is spread all over inside the cell. Cyanobacteria rely on molecules such as chlorophyll and phycocyanin to gather light energy. Another unique feature of these life forms is the ability to thrive in conditions with high oxygen and low oxygen concentrations (Bothe, 2019). Some cyanobacteria species are tolerant of extreme conditions such as salt toxicity, high temperatures as well UV-irradiation. The tolerance features and the ability to photosynthesize under low light determine cyanobacteria’s capability to survive Martian conditions. According to a study by Bothe (2019), certain cyanobacteria, particularly from the genus Chroococcidiopsis, are exceptional because if they have minimal nutrient requirements. The species also has a unique adaptation that enables it to meet its nitrogen requirement through nitrogen fixation. Rather than rely on water for photosynthesis, cyanobacteria can use molecular nitrogen gas. Furthermore, the evidence highlights a crucial feature that could enable cyanobacteria to withstand extreme conditions on Mars (Bothe, 2019). The Chroococcidiopsis is tolerant to desiccation. On Earth, most of these organisms have been discovered in harsh desert conditions marked by low precipitation. They safeguard themselves against intense irradiation by dwelling under the rocks in an endolithic manner of life. Additionally, Chroococcidiopsis can also withstand salt toxicity, as evidenced by the species found in salt crystals. Scholars believe that moisture that condenses on the halite crystals is adequate to support their existence. The rocky material close to the surface of Mars contains silica, which could be conducive for the growth of organisms such as cyanobacteria. Additionally, Chroococcidiopsis strains do not rely on a supply of organic nitrogen. Instead, these life forms meet the requirement for nitrogen via nitrogen fixation, where atmospheric dinitrogen molecule is converted to ammonium ion under the influence of nitrogenase enzyme (Bothe, 2019). Desiccation tolerance is another trait that could enable the microorganisms to thrive under desert-like conditions on the Mars surface. Chroococcidiopsis minimize both photosynthesis and respiration in the onset of drought. They resume normal photosynthesis once their habitat receives adequate precipitation. Poikilohydrous behavior is a vital feature that would aid the survival of cyanobacteria on Mars. Furthermore, the evidence highlights Chroococcidiopsis thermalis ability to carry out photosynthesis under low light conditions. The scientists established that the cyanobacterium species could continue to photosynthesize beyond the limit 700 nanometers wavelength (Bothe, 2019). The characteristics also support the claim regarding reliance on less biological fuel. Most of the evidence points towards Chroococcidiopsis as the cyanobacterial that is capable of withstanding the harsh conditions on Mars. Nonetheless, the claim about cyanobacteria is still controversial. Scientists are yet to establish the strain combinations with the best traits to tolerate the varying extreme conditions on Mars. Furthermore, the evidence does not EARTH LIFE FORMS 4 highlight the physiological, molecular as well as biochemical features that allow cyanobacteria molecules to dwell in specific desert habitats. Lichens are among the most robust organisms on Earth. They can exist on trees, rock surfaces as well as walls. Lichens survive through partnerships as a fungal cell interjoined with an algae or cyanobacteria cell. The combination makes it possible for lichens to tolerate extreme conditions and desiccation. They have been discovered at different altitudes as well as Polar Regions which closely resemble conditions on Mars. Scientists describe lichens as ‘extremophiles’ due to their capability to tolerate some hostile conditions on Earth, particularly in habitats such as rocks, deserts as well as dry valleys. Nonetheless, lichens exist as a composite life form (Armstrong, 2019). Their survival relies on the presence of a wide range of organisms, including cyanobacteria and multiple types of fungi. Evidence highlights that lichens have most features to qualify as a stress-tolerant organism. They have low nutrient requirements, longevity, slow growth, as well as adaptation to withstand desiccation (Armstrong, 2019). The ability to tolerate such harsh conditions entails functional and structural adaptations as well as the transition in ecological behavior. The lichen structure encompasses a fungal tissue. Cya ...
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Search for extrasolar life proposal




Proposal: Mission to discover extrasolar life

A search for extrasolar life is bolstered by the human long-standing quest to determine if

they are the only life in the Cosmos. The imaginative thoughts of the world other than earth,
perhaps with some exotic creatures has been an integral part of human history and culture. Many
theorists only speculated that human beings and other earthly living microorganisms are not the
only creatures in the universe. Thus, the discovery of extrasolar planets is probably one of the
greatest achievements in astronomy. The implication of the science in the discovery of life in
extrasolar planets could be transformative in numerous ways. Fortunately, technology today is
allowing scientists to have a broader discovery of life beyond earth. The progress is encouraging
and it is opening discoveries that human beings could not have comprehended years ago. In
response to the Global Organization For an Optimistic future to finding non-terrestrial living
organisms, this paper proposes a search for any non –terrestrial microorganism that could
potentially live on Mars. Mars is of great interest among the scientific community and with more
advanced instrumentations and technology; the evidence is likely to show present habitability.

Mission Location: Mars
The potential of Mars supporting life has fascinated the scientist's community for many

years. In essence, considerable evidence indicates that Mars once had a wetter and clement
environment, which motivates a search for present life on the planet (KQED QUEST, 2014 video).
This evidence also suggests the possibility of restoring the condition of the planet to be habitable
by the terrestrial organism. The planetary body of Mars has similar geological similarities to that
of the earth in the solar system. National Space Agency (NASA) recent project has centered its
attention towards analyzing the Martian surface and subsurface of Mars. Pictures taken on the
NASA mission revealed rocks that makeup hills and canyons. The formation of these rocks is



similar to earth formation, thus indicates geological similarities between the two planets. The
presence of water is particularly of interest when it comes to these discoveries. Waters have been
found to the most important elements in supporting life. Scientists have concluded that one of the
reasons Earth is able to support life than other planets is its presence of water. Thus, the presence
of water in other planets may indicate the existence of past or present life forms.
NASA has discovered that the Geological features in Mars show the presence of liquid
water on the surface at in the past. This is demonstrated by the presence of lake formations, dry
river valleys, alluvial fans as well as deltas. NASA curiosity rover descending onto Mars generated
more data about this red planet than any other rover missions have ever collected. The curiosity
rover using the electromagnetic spectrum was able to survey that subsurface of Mars and the
impact that the planet weather could have on a non-terrestrial living organism. Image from the
rover suggests that the geological features in the mars were tributary (KQED QUEST, 2014 video).
The most interesting features are the layers of sedimentary rock and their features, which are
consistent with water flows. The surface sedimentary alluvial fans were shows to contain
aluminum phyllosilicates layered with chloride deposits. The phyllosilicates are highly linked with
hydrothermal activities in Mars past. Other deposits in the sediments and bedrocks were salty
throughout the region. This difference indicates that aqueous activities may have been present on
The organic compound is often covalently linked wot atoms of elements such as oxygen,
nitrogen, and hydrogen which as we know is are associated with life. According to Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (2017), one of the reasons Saturn's moon Enceladus is likely to support life is the
presence of hydrogen plumes, which is like the food source, or “candy” for microbes. The first
discovery by Curiosity rovers shoes organic molecules, which includes chlorobenzene and



dichloro alkanes. While the analysis of these molecules shows millions of years ago, their presence
is similar to those found on lacus...

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